Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Catholic Reflections 650 : Homily Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B - 28th January 2018

Homily Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B - 28th January 2018

First Reading: Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Psalm: Ps 94:1-2. 6-9. “
If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
Gospel Acclamation: Matthew 4:16
Gospel: Mark 1:21-28
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Please listen to my audio recordings of the readings, prayers and reflections for the Fourth Sunday in ordinary Time, Year B - 28th January, 2018 by clicking this link here:   https://soundcloud.com/user-633212303/4b-ordinary-faith-hope-and-love (EPISODE: 72 )
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The events of today’s Gospel were astounding to the people of Our Lord’s time, not because he was casting out evil spirits….   (that seems to be something that modern listeners get a bit stuck on….we can find it hard to understand the world in its pre-scientific or medical way of seeing things)  the wonder of this scene is that Jesus spoke and acted with an authority that was unlike anyone had ever seen.  He spoke as the Holy One of God…. And with all the authoritythat this brings…    
  
Two thousand years ago, spirits were accepted as a part of life. The culture of the time said that naming a Spirit would gain power over it and vanquish it.   But here..  the man who calls out to Jesus, accurately names him and it does not do anything to weaken or vanquish Our Lord….   And then;…,,,,  Jesus cures and frees the man without ever engaging himself with the apparent bad-spirit or naming it…   Our Lord is more powerful than anyone, (or anything), and he did not act according to the established expectations and limitations of the time.   
 
The Lord does not give any quarter to destructive or negative things or people… and does not entertain the false paths of these things either; even to argue the point from his life-giving perspective. .   -  This gospel teaches us that Christ’s authority was absolute and he had no need for bowing and scraping to any other powers or dominations. 
 

Jesus, (in this weekend’s gospel) is described as “speaking with authority”
that deeply impresses those who hear him. An authority that is so different from what they are used to experiencing from their usual religious leaders, who should be inspiring and speaking with authority too.
 
It goes to show, there are two types of authority; one that derives from the office that a person holds (the authority and respect due to the position a person holds) and then there is the personal authority that speaks powerfully of the inner integrity, vision and values of the person.
When both are found together, then history has before them a great and impressive leader….
 
Jesus never had a formal office in his society (other than being rightly described as Rabbi or teacher; however his authority was absolute. Deep within the truth of who he is, (firm in his relationship to the Heavenly Father); --
Clear of vision and consistent in action and word… // Unlike those who are just mouthing the words, and just going through the motions, but who (at the same time) do not KNOW spirit of the gospel, nor do they know the one who embodies this perfectly…(Jesus himself).
 
We too can only speak with authority to the extent we stay connected to Christ who is THE authority.

We cannot hope to speak or act with any kind of authority unless we speak in union with Gods words, live God’s values and embody God’s vision in practical ways.
 
Sadly, in this day and age, just as in Jesus’ time, there are many who profess to be speaking God’s words and being faithful to God’s ways, but they are far from him. It is a danger, and it is sad to see, but it is possible to be a ‘cliché Christian’ and a ‘shorthand disciple of Jesus’.
This is when one replaces the vibrant, integrated and person-centred message of Jesus with a cut down, legalistic, fear-filled, not-compassionate shadow of what Jesus was on about.

This is what the Pharisees and the scribes were doing in Jesus time. They were saying, “we have the message, we are the representative’s and keepers of God’s laws,”  yet they were being hypocritical, unloving, unforgiving, unjust, and (worse still) ‘missing the forest for the trees’ by focusing on the ‘letter of the law’ and missing the whole point of it.

The true test of their faithfulness to God was how they responded to the embodiment of God (in Jesus). These so-called faithful followers of God failed miserably in this test, because they rejected him and opposed his vision.
 
We must stay very close to the person and message of Jesus and learn from him and feel and experience his compassion and love for all people (because this is what motivates his mission). Without that, we too could fall into the trap of living the outward appearance and missing the point inside.
 
 
It is ironic, that Jesus was unable to cast out the evil of malice and deception that was in the hearts of his opponents, - Because they used their God-given freewill to indulge their own selfishness and fear… and became people who lied and deceived in order to wrongly accuse Our Lord of sedition, in order to have him crucified.
 
They were too wilful. They were deliberately and stubbornly cooperating with evil in their hearts and choosing to oppose Jesus; and so Jesus had to suffer, die and rise again in order to break the power of their hatred and fear.
 
We must not allow ourselves to be distracted in our service of God’s Kingdom and the values of the gospel….
(as St Paul is really saying in the second reading). Whether that is through the married vocation or through celibacy.. We are all called to be at the service of the kingdom……..(for both have their place in God’s vision). We are to be single-minded in God’s service through various wonderful vocations and callings……   
So, what really counts is listening to what God wants of us here and now. Married or single, with God’s help, let us strive to live that vocation well.

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References:
 
Fr Paul W. Kelly

 
Homily of the Abbot – Monastery of Christ in the Desert
 
MISSION 2000– PRAYING SCRIPTURE IN A CONTEMPORARY WAY. YEAR B. BY MARK LINK S.J.

 
Pilch, John J. The cultural world of Jesus Sunday by Sunday, cycle B.  Collegeville, Minn. Liturgical Press .1996.


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Archive of homilies and reflections is at: http://homilycatholic.blogspot.com.au
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Fourth Sunday in ordinary Time, Year B
(
28th January, 2018)
 
(EPISODE: 72 )

The Lord be with you.
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Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
Lord Jesus, you call your people to turn away from sin: Lord, have mercy//You teach us wisdom, and write your truth in our inmost heart: Christ, have mercy//You forgive sins through the ministry of reconciliation: Lord, have mercy//
May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.  Amen.
 
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Memorial Acclamation

When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again.

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Sundays Ordinary III

Eucharistic Prayer II

Communion side.  pwk: 
LH
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Go forth, the Mass is ended.



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